Life and Death of a Journalist presented by Pokfulam Rd Productions
What Is It?
A play about press, freedom and the ethics of journalism.
What Is It About?
Laura (Lucy Roslyn) is a journalist recently returned to London but in thrall to Hong Kong, who is offered a job which would allow her to cover the protests against the Chinese government and, as she hopes, challenge the media chokehold from within. However, Laura struggles to trust editor Vicky’s (Melissa Woodbridge) promises that the newspaper is as independent of Chinese governmental interference as it claims. She becomes worried for the welfare of her friend, a Hong Kong dissident, and under pressure from her boyfriend, Mark.
How Did It Make Me Feel?
The production is given a shaky hand by being put in the Cage, surely the Vault venue with one of the worst cases of interference-by-overhead-train-noise. It feels fair to acknowledge this, because the actors never quite get a handle on their relationships and the pacing is shaky. Roslyn was majestic in Orlando at last year’s VAULT Festival, but here she seems reluctant to succumb to the conversational tone of the writing. They also aren’t helped by the fact that the script is overgrown; the characters simply say too much, and there isn’t enough space left, either by the script or the direction, for the actors to sit in the situation and respond naturally to each other. There’s also no sense of place; at one point, as signalled by a sound effect, the two female characters are sat in a busy bar, yet Woodbridge gets up and starts wandering around. The play has also given itself a challenge by placing itself not just in a complex historical event, but also a complex industry - the media - and so has to spend quite a lot of time explaining itself to the audience. There is a certain flair to the staging, but the moments of abstraction need to be held up by a firmer narrative.
There is a thrilling story about the personal and political in here somewhere, but at the moment it doesn’t convince.
Grace AK x
Life and Death of a Journalist is playing in the Cage, VAULT Festival, until the 1st March 2020.
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